Sports drinks after and during physical exertion for athletes are meant to hydrate, fuel and replace nutrients lost during exercise. While these are great benefits, the unfortunate side is the exact same drinks are often causing damage to your teeth. Clayton, NC dentist, Dr. Folden Lee and the Folden W. Lee DDS dental team want to bring awareness to this matter. If you care about the longevity of your family’s and your own teeth, it’s time to understand the harsh truths of the beloved sports drinks.
Why are Sports Drinks Harmful to Your Teeth?
Put simply, they can lead to enamel erosion and tooth decay. But how? First impulse for many would go immediately to sugar. And yes, sugar is terrible for our teeth but it isn’t the driving force behind the enamel erosion for this one. In fact, there are plenty of sports drinks containing little to no sugar. The real danger is the acid in the drinks. And even worse many drinks (especially energy drinks) contain citric acid.
Citric acid drastically reduces the effect of biofilm on your teeth which is there to help protect your enamel. The acid begins to break down the minerals in the outer most layer of your teeth. This erosion can further and damage the next layer in your teeth known as dentin. Teeth will become overly sensitive to temperature and touch. While this becomes very uncomfortable it really isn’t the worst part. Damage can lead to cavities and ultimately tooth decay.
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) found that after only five days of consistent use sports and energy drinks will begin to damage your enamel. Leading author, Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, of the study conducted by the AGD on the effects of sports and energy drinks on tooth enamel said “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth in acid.”
I don’t believe this one is hard to guess but the absolute best way to prevent sports and energy drinks from wreaking havoc on your pearly whites… is to avoid them altogether. Now we know many people won’t take that option so it’s important for us to offer alternatives.
Choose drinks with low to no sugar content – the combination of acid and sugar creates the perfect storm for speeding up decay.
Don’t sip – the more contact the acid has with the teeth the worse off. Try a straw behind the teeth or squirting to the back of the throat.
DO NOT BRUSH TEETH after consumption – toothbrush bristles will only further damage the vulnerable teeth and spread the acid. Allow saliva at least thirty minutes to an hour to begin to repair and protect the teeth again.
Chew sugarless gum – this promotes the production of saliva.
Teenagers and athletes are among the highest consumption groups. It is important as a parent to limit what you allow your children to drink and then also educate them on the harsh effects. No one wants to end up with irreparable damage that ends in costly dental work. Stay on top of your family dental visits and contact the Clayton, NC dental office of Folden W. Lee DDS for more tips on prevention.